Part of the reason repairs on some import motor vehicles can be so costly is because of the labor involved. Now, many people often ask why does this car take more time than this car? They’re basically the same design.
Unfortunately, a lot of the time, they’re really not.
In the case of this Honda Civic, these are built on the cheapest assembly line facilities possible. That means they start with the heaviest component so they can move it in a straight line the fewest number of motions. This is something that Henry Ford taught us in 1902. Honda uses that theory to this day. That means that they take the engine block itself, the heaviest component of the vehicle, and physically machine build and assemble the engine first. Once the engine is built, which is anywhere from four to six hundred pounds, the transmission is built, assembled, and then bolted to the motor itself, physically connecting the two. This six to nine hundred pound assembly is then bolted to the front cradle, also known as the frame of the vehicle. Once this assembly is sat down on to it, the front steering and suspension components that we see still suspended in the air here are then bolted on to this lower cradle.
At that point, the actual body, monocoque structure of the vehicle, is sat down on to this. For perspective, this cradle with the motor and transmission and the suspension and steering components weighs about 55 percent of the vehicles total weight. The shell above us literally just a shell. It’s an empty body of a car that gets minor components installed otherwise.
When vehicles come in and need a major engine repair or replacement, on some pickups and SUVs that are made here in America, we can do it in an afternoon, pull it right out the top, get it taken care of, put it right back together. However, on many import motor vehicles where they’re assembled in this assembly line fashion to keep the cost of production low, that keeps cost of maintenance high, and in turn, means very high labor times for us to literally disassemble the vehicle to the way it was built at the factor to replace an engine.